Without a Trace: Season 2
DVD | Box Set
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Without A Trace: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
From executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Cold Case, three CSI series) comes this procedural drama about a special New York-based FBI task force known as the Missing Persons Squad. The series stars Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Anthony LaPaglia (Frasier, Lantana). The squad uses psychological profiling techniques to peel back the layers of the missing victims' lives and trace their whereabouts in an effort to discover whether they've been abducted, murdered, are missing by choice, have committed suicide or are simply accident victims. As the team members construct a Day of Disappearance timeline detailing the 24 hours prior to the disappearance, they follow one simple rule: to learn where the victim is, learn who the victim is. The series also stars Poppy Montgomery, Oscar® nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Enrique Murciano and Eric Close. Notable guest stars include Kirstie Alley, Hector Elizondo, Jerry O'Connell, Martin Landau, J.K. Simmons and Jon Tenney.]]>
"You can't save everyone, Jack," a child molester taunts FBI Agent Jack Malone before hurling himself out a window. But the tireless efforts of Malone (Anthony LaPaglia in his Golden Globe-winning role) and the members of the elite Missing Persons Squad to do just that are what make Without a Trace so compelling. Each episode is a race against time to find a person who has mysteriously vanished (their slow fade from the screen has lost none of its unsettling power). In some of this sophomore season's most gripping cases, people and events are not what they seem. In "Confidence," the task force discovers that a missing wealthy socialite has a seriously shady past and keeps "bad company." The past haunts the present in "Risen," in which Vivian (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) gets a new lead on a four-year-old case (Kirstie Alley is excellent as the missing girl's distraught mother), and in "Copycat," a sociopath with a grudge against Jack (see "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" from the first season) is involved in a disappearance with disturbing similarities to a 12-year-old case.
The procedural aspect of Without a Trace is fascinating as Jack and company employ advanced profiling techniques in their investigations. Over the course of the season, episodes also deftly flesh out the characters. Samantha (Poppy Montgomery) struggles with the psychological repercussions of being shot in the season 1 cliffhanger. Taylor (Enrique Murciano) is revealed to have a brother who is in jail. Samantha, who had an affair with Jack, is drawn to Martin (Eric Close). Jack learns that his father (Martin Landau in an Emmy Award-winning performance) has Alzheimer's. He also weighs a move to Chicago to save his rocky marriage. Fulfilling the promise of the auspicious first season, Without a Trace has established itself as among the best-written and -acted (not for nothing did the series earn a Best Casting for TV award from the Casting Society of America) hours on television. And without commercials to break the tension, it's an even more intense experience on DVD. --Donald Liebenson
- 24 episodes on six discs
- Missing evidence: unaired scenes
- Note: this set has closed-captioning but no subtitles
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Top customer reviews
Every single episode (except maybe two) makes me cry - in a good way. The "human element" is perhaps the best feature of these series, somehow even the most evil characters evoke at least some sympathy - because life is never black and white, even when it comes to Evil People.
It takes a lot of talent to portray gangsters, crack addicts, drug pushers, and even murderers as failed humans - but humans nonetheless. Every character makes you open your mind a little more, be less judgmental, and see a person in each one of them, and not just a stereotype.
(There is only another series I know of that comes close to this along the same lines - CSI. Also created by Jerry Bruckheimer - I think it is his special talent. But CSI is a lot less believable, a lot more contrived, and IMO totally poisoned by their gory close-ups - YIKES! You really don't have to show how a bullet crushes the heart up close and in a slow-mo to get the idea, and it totally ruins and distracts from the plot and the acting.)
Anyway, over a decade later, and after watching every episode many, many times, this show is still relevant, gripping, and is still the best that you'd find on TV.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (who also produced Cold Case -- another show that, if I recall correctly, I also started watching around the same time) Without a Trace is about the cases of the New York City FBI field office's Missing Persons Unit (which, AFAIK does NOT exist in real-life, as missing persons cases are NOT usually handled by the FBI, but rather local police departments -- except in cases of ransom, kidnapping across state lines, or child abduction) as well as, to a lesser degree, the personal lives of the FBI agents on this squad.
In the early seasons of the show (including this season), the FBI Missing Persons Unit consists of Special Agent Samantha "Sam" Spade (played by Poppy Montgomery) a cynical but yet very compassionate agent (in my opinion, like ALL the agents in this unit), trying to overcome a difficult childhood, Special Agent Danny Taylor (played by Enrique Murciano) a former foster child after being orphaned at the age of 11, is a somewhat tough-talking streetwise agent, with a sharp sense of humor and a quick temper at times but yet, a good heart ALL the time, Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald (played by Eric Close), the newcomer rookie agent and the son of the Deputy Director of the FBI, is trying to prove himself to the fellow agents in his unit, and show them that he earned his position on his own merit & competence and NOT because of the nepotism of being the Deputy Director's son, and Special Agent Vivian Johnson (played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste) a very knowledgeable veteran agent whose wisdom provides balance to the cynicism, hot-headedness, and inexperience of the other agents on the team. The Missing Persons Unit is commanded by Supervisory Special Agent Jack Malone (played by Anthony LaPaglia) a well-intentioned if not impulsive head agent with a cowboy attitude and a propensity to bend, if not even outright break the rules, in the name of finding the missing person, catching the culprit responsible (if applicable) and solving the case. Jack's maverick attitude extends to his home life, where his already-rocky marriage has been disintegrating (and eventually in later seasons, ends in an acrimonious divorce) since a brief illicit affair with fellow agent & subordinate, Samantha Spade (that occurred prior to the start of the series) with whom he has an on-again/off-again relationship throughout the run of the series.
Without a Trace is a gripping, suspenseful and intriguing mystery/crime drama that deals with the cases of various missing people, as well as the personal lives of the FBI agents trying to find them. It follows these aforementioned agents from the time they are called in on a Missing Persons case, as they race against the clock, to find out who the missing individual(s) are and learn all about them to locate them, and solve the case. Whether they were abducted, or they ran away, or whether they committed suicide or met with an accident or foul play, are all potential scenarios that the agents in the Missing Persons Unit have to consider during the course of their investigation. Working backwards in time, these FBI agents have to track the movements as well as the behavior, verbal statements, phone & computer activity and other actions, of the missing person in the hours, days, weeks and even months & years prior to the disappearance, in order to trace where they might be and/or what might've happened to them. The agents have to both look backwards in time while moving forward as the countdown continues to find the missing person before the crucial 48 hours (because its believed that the chances of finding a missing person alive after 48 hours [or in the case of missing children, 24 hours] is very slim to none) have passed. Which is why, throughout the episode, there are periodic updates (in the form of subtitled scene intros) stating how long the missing person has been gone -- and as the hours tick by, without any luck finding the missing, the pressure, anxiety, and tension mounts as the case becomes more dire.
Adding to the suspense is the fact that, for the most part, none (or very few) of the cases end in the exact same way -- and just like in real-life, not all of the missing person cases have happy "fairy-tale" endings. Some of the people are found alive, others are found dead, and some cases are left unsolved as an "open case"/"cold case" and viewers are never shown what happens, instead being left to draw their own conclusions about the fate of the case. Not to mention that some/many of the episodes have unforeseen twists & turns that often viewers never see coming. For example, a case in which the squad is searching for a missing individual who they suspect is in danger, only the agents later learn that the missing person actually committed a crime, and then the case turns from a missing person search, to a manhunt for a fugitive and the episode ends with the missing person in handcuffs. Or vice versa, where the squad is searching for someone who they believe is a fugitive on the run, only to later learn that the missing person was actually innocent (even framed) for the crime, and the case turns from a manhunt for a fugitive, to a search for a missing person in danger, and the episode ends with the person being exonerated and their name cleared in one way or another. Thanks to the SUPERB writing (including all the unexpected twists and turns) which keeps viewers (or at least me!) on the edge of their seats, its difficult if not impossible to predict how the specific missing person's case & the episode will play out. That's not something you can say about most TV shows, which are often formulaic rehash/déjà vu of episodes of other shows, or even past episodes of the same show.
Although there ARE a few episodes in this season that I don't particularly like (a couple I even hate), there are others (like "Wannabe") that are ABSOLUTE FAVORITES, and have seen MULTIPLE times!
My favorite episodes in this season are "Prodigy" in which the squad searches for a missing famous Russian-American teenage violinist, who disappeared from her dressing room before a show, along with her expensive professional violin, worth over a half a million dollars, "A Tree Falls" an episode involving the disappearance of an undocumented Guatemalan boy, and illegal immigration & smuggling, "Moving On" in which the agents try to solve the disappearance of a driven & successful neurosurgeon, "Exposure", an episode about the extent of corporate greed & responsibility (or lack thereof!) in which a celebrity paparazzi photographer suddenly disappears after stumbling upon a case of massive corporate malfeasance, and meeting the innocent victims of it, "Shadows", an episode about Agent Martin Fitzgerald's aunt who goes missing after getting tragic news, "Lost and Found" in which an adopted young girl fears that she was kidnapped as an infant by her adoptive parents, "Bait" an episode about the family of a billionaire who is kidnapped off their yacht while at sea. and "Wannabe" in which a middle school boy disappears after being bullied & the victim of a cruel prank by his classmates, which is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE episode in this season if not in the entire series (the scene[s] in this episode, especially those with Danny Taylor & Jack Malone at the end of the episode, are so touching!!)
My only quibble with this item, is the packaging. I ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HATE cardboard DVD boxes, or for that matter, ANY style of DVD cases that involves cardboard!
Rather than a cardboard DVD box holding slim-line plastic DVD cases (the style used for THIS set), I much PREFER the single plastic DVD case with an inner tray-rack to hold the discs (like the DVD case style used for Without a Trace: Season 3 and all the subsequent/later seasons of this series, as well as the DVD case style for the 7th Heaven - The Complete Third Season and Law & Order: The Ninth Year sets among others!) instead!
I am kind of anal about my DVD sets (actually, DVDs & CDs in general!), and I HATE the cardboard box style of DVD case which often gets worn, scuffed, and/or peeling at the edges and corners of the box. In my experience so far, plastic DVD cases do NOT have those problems -- at most, the clear plastic sheet on the outside of the DVD case (into which the paper cover is inserted) *might* get a little wrinkled or soiled/dusty. But the few wrinkles or soiling on the plastic cases is at least something I can live with, UNLIKE the significant scuffing & peeling into white spots/patches on the corners & edges of cardboard cases, which is really aggravating! That is why I'd much rather have a single plastic DVD case with an inner-tray/rack which doesn't get much (if ANY!) edgewear, shelfwear, corner-wear, and/or scuffing & peeling, and is pretty much care-free!
Without a Trace is a GREAT show, and even though its no longer on the air anymore, I'm so glad to have not only this season on DVD, but now that I finally have the rest of the series (the final 4 seasons which I just recently bought) on DVD I can have any episode in the series at my fingertips whenever I want to see it, instead of having to hope that (and wait for) the show is broadcast in syndication and wait for the particular episode to re-air!
I ♥ Without a Trace! Now if they'd only just find a way to clear the music rights so that they could release Cold Case on DVD as well!!
Overall, this season continues the watchability and excellent writing begun by Season One.
For the curious, here is the episode list, first aired 09/25/03-05/20/04.
Our Sons And Daughters
A Tree Falls
Hawks And Handsaws
Lost And Found